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War in Ukraine: What is taught in Russian schools

Vladimir Lenin once boasted: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” The Kremlin of Vladimir Putin seems determined to emulate the founder of the Soviet Union.

Earlier this year, Maria Zakharova issued instructions to…seafarers: “You are on the front line of the information war,” she told a gathering of history and social science professors.

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In accordance with Politicoafter the invasion, released a highly distorted version of her story Ukraines, as described. In a 5,000-word pamphlet titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” where the existence of Ukraine as an independent nation simply does not exist.

The recruitment of the country’s teachers to try to teach Putin’s version of history – and to tighten the Kremlin’s control over schools – was immediate.

The wrong answers… and the apology

Some parents fear that the questionnaires their children have to fill out, with questions like: “Do you support the decision of the President of the Russian Federation to conduct a special military operation in Ukraine?” will be used against them if the “correct” answers are not given.

“I worry about what my child might say in class about our views and how they might be used against us,” says one mother.

In May, a teenage girl in Dagestan spoke out against the war in Ukraine and the video went viral. After being properly admonished, the girl posted a video of her disclaimer, saying, “I was worried about the exams and, with all this in the background, I had a fight with my mother. I admit my mistake and apologize for ruining everyone’s vacation.”

Her mother also apologized, saying: “I overlooked something important in raising my daughter.” A month later, Russia’s Ministry of Education announced a plan to educate parents of students.

What is “my country”

The My Country curriculum offers a highly selective historical narrative – one that ignores, for example, the Holodomor, the famine allegedly inflicted by the Soviets on Ukraine in the 1930s, which sent millions of Ukrainians to their deaths.

The text begins as follows: “Ukraine and Russia are two parts of a single, historical, spiritual and cultural space.”

Through an eight-stage timeline, the curriculum begins with the Baptism of Russia — the mass baptism ordered by Vladimir the Great in 988 of Kievan Rus, a medieval political confederation that spanned modern-day Belarus, Ukraine and part of Russia — and culminates with Russia’s recognition of the “independent republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk this year.

It is also reported that the USSR helped the development of Ukraine. the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany is highlighted, NATO is portrayed as a threat to Russia, with its enlargement putting pressure on Putin while the bloody Maidan uprising that overthrew the autocratic and pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Yanukovych is called a coup d’état: “The radicals, with strong Western support, seized power in 2014, sowed terror against those who opposed unconstitutional actions. Ukrainian cities were swept by a wave of pogroms and violence, and unpunished killings.”

Russian artists and cultural figures have been recruited to help. Nikita Mikhalkov, the Oscar-winning director of “Burnt by the Sun” and staunch Putin supporter who last week called for the eradication of the Ukrainian language, has made a highly controversial 48-minute film for Russian schoolchildren about the “origins of fascism” .

From this academic year, which started this week, a new series of courses was also introduced. Called “Conversations on what matters”, pupils will be taught about patriotism and teachers are invited to talk about how the war in Ukraine is “an example of true love for the country and the Russian people”.

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“The happiness of the country more precious than life”

Lessons are tailored for each age group: Those teaching the two youngest grades refer to the love of nature as “a manifestation of love for the Motherland,” while authorized lessons for other grades will be based on slogans such as “It’s not scary to die for Russia”, “The happiness of the motherland is more valuable than life” and “Love the motherland – serve the motherland”.

In a video, teachers explain that Russians must “defend the Motherland at a dangerous time”, while it is emphasized that the “special military operation” is protecting people in Donbas, Ukraine from fascists and preventing an insidious NATO from developing bases in Ukraine.

As is often the case with authoritarian governments, fear is now being manufactured and weaponized in Russia’s ranks. Lenin would, indeed, be proud.

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